It is different this time.
Russia’s involvement in Syria’s civil war and its violations of Turkish airspace are raising tensions between the two powers. Russian planes have entered Turkish airspace without permission before. But now the situation is much more volatile, Wikistrat’s Dr. Akın Ünver argues in this report.
Firstly, he highlights that Turkish jets were harassed returning from bombing PKK positions. “Experiencing aerial denial during what Turkey sees as counter-terrorism operations is a source of immense annoyance in Ankara,” writes Ünver.
Secondly, Russian operations in Syria are largely confined to those areas dominated by opposition groups supported by Turkey. The country has spent a substantial amount of money and equipment to rally these rebels over the last few years; Russia’s actions are undoing much of its efforts.
Thirdly, it is unclear if Turkey is dealing with Russian aerial assets in Syria or Syrian assets that have established a more confrontational posture, having been emboldened by Russia’s presence. Ankara can manage being threatened by Russia, argues Ünver. A Syrian challenge against Turkish jets, by contrast, can be seen as a long-term message regarding the future of the Syrian regime’s outlook towards Turkey. Read More →